Melbourne CC showing the way

Saturday, February 24, 2018

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Established in May 1892 for people of “modest means”, Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) in Kingston is said to be the third oldest members' cricket club in Jamaica.

Unlike others of its kind in this country, Melbourne, down the generations, has shown an admirable ability to nimbly change with the times while serving the interests of cricket and community.

Over recent decades Melbourne CC, through its summer camps and academy programmes, has been at the forefront in the effort to keep children playing cricket.

Such has been the success of its youth programmes that in recent years Melbourne CC has been able to attract annual sponsorship of $1 million from food manufacturers Foska Oats. That's not to be scoffed at, given the diminishing image of cricket in Jamaica.

In more recent years, Melbourne CC, under the dynamic leadership of former Jamaica and Kingston College cricketer Mr Mark Neita, has reached out to worthy causes through an annual 5K charity run.

We are told that last year the event, backed by sponsorship from Pure Water, raised $500,000 for Special Olympics Jamaica. This year, the Sickle Cell Unit will join Special Olympics in benefiting from the Melbourne Cricket Club Pure Water 5K charity race set for March 4.

Mr Neita tells us that “registration is ahead of where it was last year this time” and “there has been a lot of interest”, partly because of the introduction of the Sickle Cell Unit as a beneficiary — the debilitating effect of that disease being particularly well known.

And, this newspaper is very pleased that Mr Neita has his sights set on the charity becoming bigger in the years to come.

Says he: “We would love to have 2,000 people and we would love to be able to raise a million dollars for each of our charities. Last year we gave Special Olympics $500,000 [and] that's the goal for this year, [but] next year we want to up that figure significantly.”

Crucially, true to its record of keeping in step with changing times, Melbourne CC will be utilising high technology to maximise the impact of its charity.

Mr Neita tells us that runners anywhere in the world will be able to compete in the Melbourne Cricket Club Pure Water 5K charity race using a RaceRunner application via mobile phone. In other words, a competitor in China, for example, will be able to run the five-kilometre race in his/her geographical space subject to rules and regulations, while maintaining a link with organisers in Kingston via mobile phone. We are told that this will be a first for Jamaica.

Says a proud Mr Neita: “We are the first 5K event in Jamaica to have a RaceRunner App that allows people to race anywhere in the world by just downloading the app... that is a significant achievement for a cricket club to bring that kind of cutting-edge technology to the table and we are really excited about that.”

In an age when cricket in Jamaica and the Caribbean is being constantly lambasted because of perceived poor leadership, the message from Melbourne CC is that all is not lost. This newspaper joins all well-thinking Jamaicans in saying, “Well done, Melbourne, please keep up the good work.”




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